Trip Coach: February 26, 2008
Maria Burwell, editor of "Fodor's New York City 2009," answered your questions on the Big Apple.
As for food, there are plenty of places to eat around there that won't stretch your plastic: Try Mint on 50th for delicious, fresh Indian food. P.J. Clarke's on 55th, in an old school New York establishment, serves up burgers, fried oysters, and comforting shepherd's pie. Go over to the Westside at 44th Street to Hallo Berlin for wildly cheap German bratwurst, beet, and fried potatoes that will top you off for another round of walking.
Williamston, N.C.: I am taking my daughters to New York on March 14-16. We have tickets for The Little Mermaid and Wicked. My girls are 20 and 27. I am looking for a great place for lunch in Soho area on Friday and somewhere special for lunch on Sat. Thank you for your help.
Maria Burwell: Venture a little east of SoHo and stroll into the hip streets of NoLita. Unlike the chain stores in SoHo that you'll see back home (J. Crew, M.A.C., etc.) the boutiques in NoLita are one of a kind. Places like Me + Ro for Asian inspired earrings or Resurrection for vintage Pucci prints, will be entirely new to your daughters. Here, on the corner of Elizabeth and Prince St., you can get a terrific lunch at Cafe Habana, serving up Cuban Sandwiches that are, as they say in Spanish, "la muerte" without spending much moolah. You'll also get a peek at the locals in this youthful Never-never-land of a neighborhood. Chances are you'll be sitting next to a model, actor, or model/actor.
If you want to treat your girls to a fancy brunch with all the French fixings, take them to Balthazar (also near SoHo on Spring St.). If you keep it simple and stick to sour cream hazelnut waffles (and resist the other more pricy options), you can actually eat here without raiding your savings.
Columbus, Ohio: I am planning on being in NYC the weekend the Pope will be in town (have had my theater tickets long before I knew was was going to be there.). Any advice on how I can get a nice hotel room in the Times Square area without paying a fortune? I am finding that that weekend is higher priced than normal. Thanks.
Maria Burwell: Try the Casablanca Hotel. But as I've mentioned, Time Square doesn't have to be your only option. I'd also look at the Pod hotel.
Allentown, Pa.: I'm looking for a kid-friendly restaurant for pre-theater Saturday dinner. Thanks
Maria Burwell: For this, I'd say hit Carmine's on W 44th Street. Not only is it in the Time Square area and family-friendly, it's also flat-out delicious. Huge portions of linguine with clam sauce or rigatoni will keep you full long after intermission!
Brookfield, Conn.: Is parking readily available at the Red Hook cruise terminal and is there a fee?
Maria Burwell: Yes, there's parking, and yes, there's a fee. It's $6 for short term parking and $20 for 24 hours.
Rochester, Ind.: My husband is taking me to Manhattan for Mother's Day and we are having difficulty finding reasonably priced rooms that are safe, comfortable, clean and if not in the midtown or Times Square area, a place close to public transportation. I am aghast at the prices of hotels; my last trip to NYC was less than a year ago and before that we have visited often: once or twice a year most years for the last 45 years. Can you help? We are in our early 70s but don't act like it; we enjoy travel adventures and are comfortable practically everywhere in the world on our own alone. Flying in Thurs. May 8th and out Mon. May 12th.
Maria Burwell: That's a lovely Mother's Day gift! Well, it's hard to find a hotel for under $300 in New York, as I'm sure you know. But as I mentioned previously, establishments that are less expensive include Hotel 41, Hotel Metro, the Pod Hotel, or Casablanca Hotel. If you're willing to do some walking, consider the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel New York. They're all the way over on the Eastside, but definitely comfortable, safe, and inexpensive. Often the earlier you book, the less expensive the room. (May is a popular month, so book early!)
Alexandria, Va.: Can you recommend some good places for "fun" when on a short business trip that only leaves a small window in evening hours for dinner/drinks/entertainment? My colleagues and I are staying near Central Park in late March.
Maria Burwell: Why not do a little sightseeing while sipping cocktails? At the legendary Rainbow Room, you'll get a stunning view from the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center. Or the Pen-Top Bar & Terrace on the 23rd floor of the Peninsula Hotel is another top tier bar. If that sounds a little too buttoned up, consider some rock n' roll karaoke at Arlene's Grocery, a jazz show at the Blue Note, or just a laid back late night cup of Chai at the indie-tastic cafe Teany on the Lower East Side.